This word hounded the Infamous University of the Philippines (UP) Masters in Public Administration Student Mark Solis after issuing an appeal to keep the monetary prize of $1000 which he won during the Smiles for the World contest, sponsored by the Embassy of Chile.
In a TV interview, Solis cited poverty as his main reason in joining the contest and the reason why he wants to keep the prize money.
“Hirap din sa buhay. In fact ngayon, hindi pa ako nakakabayad ng tuition ko sa UP.” He said.
He also stated that the lure of travelling abroad, the big cash reward and the “youthful lapse of judgment” resorted Solis to “misrepresents himself”.
Along with his mother Amelia, they welcomed the crew in their modest home which they also opened for rent as their source of income.
A lot are quick to react and retort Solis’ claims, especially his former boss, Project Officer of the Development Academy of the Philippines Maricris Valte. She challenged the fact-finding committee of UP to conduct a thorough investigation and lifestyle check on Solis.
“I want to puke! I’ve seen his house in Las Pinas and the venue of the GMA-7 interview doesn’t look anything close to his house. He has more expensive gadgets than I have! At magkano ba naman ang tuition fee sa UP? Mas mahal pa yung Docksides niya kesa sa 3 units, at mas mahal pa ang i-pad niya kesa sa 9 units sa NCPAG!” She said on her facebook account.
Solis, whose photo of a boy smiling while gathering seaweeds won the grand prize, even attended the awarding ceremony which was regarded as “shameless” by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).
CCP was one of the sponsors of the Chile’s Calidad Humana Project. In an open letter, they said that Solis “not only violated the rights of the photographer but also taking advantage of the plight of typhoon victims whom he claimed as subject.”
The artistic crime of Solis was only revealed when photographer Gregory John Smith posted in his Facebook account that he owns the picture which he uploaded in his Flickr account, an image-sharing site.
“I would like to see Solis translate his words into some solid action to benefit the children he has so irresponsibly abused by taking their image and publishing it freely as one of his own property.” Smith said.
Also, it was found out that Solis did not just do it once. Not just twice.
But for over five times.
Solis also won the Office of the Presidential Adviser of the Peace Process (OPAPP) 2011 Photo contest which he grabbed from Flickr and passed it as his own. OPAPP Legal Security and Unit Head Jomer Aquino said that once they have proven of the image-grabbing actions of Solis, they will not hesitate to exercise legal action to rectify his wrongdoings.
Meanwhile, UP is now taking action through their fact-finding committee to deliberate on what actions to be carried out on Solis. Especially since his plagiarism expose’ has tainted the image of the school. They are going to make recommendations on the 3rd of October.